Nilla and I have come a long way in the year and a half I’ve known her. I’ve documented some of this before in the Nilla tab, but wanted to do a more complete look back at this transformation.
This was Nilla is January of 2014:
I remember sharing her ad with my husband and him asking why I wanted to go look at a yak. She looks so bad I almost wonder if the sellers didn’t actually want to sell her.
She was cuter in person, but her training was pretty spotty/nearly nonexistent. The owners literally tied a piece of bailing twine through the bit and around her nose to keep her from putting her tongue over the bit.
I bought her and brought her home in March. The only saddle we could find that fit her was a western saddle. Her coat was equivalent to a brillow pad and she still looked a lot like a yak.
By June, I had found an english saddle for her and figured out that a double hackamore bridle allowed me to both steer and stop her.
Quality food with the addition of oil, biotin, worming, and grooming produced a softer, golden coat.
She spent September working with a driving trainer who got her to better accept a bit and to lunge.
She also got some training from the seasonal trainer at our barn that fall. I have no pictures from this time. I started this blog around then as I realized I was doing a terrible job of recording our training and transformation.
This is what she looked like in December, 2014.
In January we started lessons with a new trainer.
This was sometimes more successful than other times. February, 2015:
We also got a trailer and started doing a lot of trail riding over the winter and spring. I introduced a treeless saddle in March to do trail rides in.
In April of 2015, we attended a Mule Dressage Clinic:
And I left Nilla there for a month for some much needed training. By May, she looked like this:
At the beginning of June, she was still improving her connection with the bit.
At the end of June, I finally determined that I needed regular lessons with a new trainer and started riding with a Gold Medal Winning dressage trainer. She got us cantering.
She was also High Point Champion at a local schooling show.
And by July, we are consistently on the bit and really starting to actually get things done in the arena.
The transformation in just the last few months is amazing, but it honestly shocks me looking at these pictures to think of not just her training transition, but the physical transformation she has undergone. Her appearance and even her conformation have changed so much as well. She really doesn’t even look like the same mule.